Family days out in Cornwall: a Spotty Dog Trail in Padstow

Street of flags and bunting in Padstow, Cornwall.

I seem to be unlucky with the weather whenever I do a Spotty Dog Trail, but as long as you have wellies and waterproofs and a clear plastic bag to cover the trail map, it’s a great way of entertaining the children. I have been to Padstow many times and felt I knew it well, but yet again, Karen (the creator of Spotty Dog Trails) has found some fascinating details about the town, its history, geography and traditions which unfolded as we followed the trail, which kept us entertained for a whole morning.

Since Rick Stein became famous and the Camel Trail became popular, Padstow has changed from a snoozy little seaside harbour to a busy bustling boom town with fashionable shops and famous restaurants rubbing shoulders with yachts and fishing boats in the harbour. I love the feel of the place and the glorious views up and down the estuary, always best when you have cycled alongside it for five miles on the Camel Trail from Wadebridge.

We spent the weekend in my camper van at the glorious Denis Cove campsite so we were able to walk into Padstow to begin our quest right in the centre of town at the house where Sir Walter Raleigh stayed when he was warden of Cornwall. Of course a trip around Padstow wouldn’t be complete without reference to the Obby ‘Oss festival on May Day and we checked out the stables of both the Blue and Red ‘Oss.

Weaving our way through the narrow back streets we headed away from the bustle to the old part of town up to St Petroc’s church, where I began the Saint’s Way walk a few months ago. The churchyard has some fascinating gravestones, especially the Sloggett stones, beautifully carved from lumps of solid granite. I was fascinated by a small building which had once been the town morgue.

On we went to a tiny gap in the houses named Marble Arch, a cut through from one lane to the other – with an old sign detailing the penalties for loitering or misbehaving there, which Wilf and Megan found highly amusing.

We then followed Fentonluna Lane past a field full of fallow deer up to Prideaux Place. The house is an Elizabethan manor, dating back over 400 years and home to the Prideaux family. It has 81 rooms and is open to the public Sunday – Thursday afternoons from April to October. Leaving the house behind, we then followed a footpath across the fields with beautiful views opening up through gaps in the hedges as we climbed upwards towards the estuary.

At the top the vista is awesome, looking across to Polzeath and Rock, out to sea past Stepper Point and up the river towards Wadebridge. It was a very low tide when we arrived so unusually we were able to see waves washing across the infamous Doom Bar where many a ship has met a watery grave as they tried to find the safe harbour of Padstow.

At this point on a sunny day you could pop down to the lovely St George’s Cove for a picnic or a swim but we carried on back towards the town via the War Memorial to seek out some more answers to our clues from the historic buildings around the harbour. These trails certainly teach you to be more observant – I have walked past these buildings many times without even noticing the quirky little artefacts which Karen points out so informatively.

The trail took us two hours to do. It’s only two miles, but with stops, searching and view admiring it is quite slow progress! Fascinating nevertheless and we finished it looking forward to the next one…

About Spotty Dog Trails

Spotty Dog Trails are a fun way to explore Cornwall’s beautiful scenery and historic towns with children of all ages. From collecting ‘treasure’ to seeking out hidden delights and spotting unusual features, the trails offer a great starting point for family days out in Cornwall. They’re suitable for all ages, and easy to follow.

There are several to choose from, including St Ives, Penzance and Falmouth. All the Spotty Dog Trails are available to buy online, priced at £9.95. Every trail pack contains everything you need for a family adventure in Cornwall: a map and directions for the walk, a mini booklet of 15 things to spot or do on that walk, a wooden dog badge, natural cotton bag for collecting, two scorecards and a pencil.

What are your favourite family activities in Cornwall? We’d love to hear your thoughts – leave a message below, post on our Facebook page or tweet @Bosinver.

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